Cleanweb is the best term that I have heard used to describe the application of web/mobile/software to sustainability. Sunil Paul describes Cleanweb as “a category of clean technology that leverages the capability of the internet, social media, and mobile technologies to address resource constraints.” Sunil did an excellent post on categorizing cleanweb and identifying opportunities within it. He has also been a pioneering champion of cleanweb, you can read more on his blog at http://sunilpaul.posterous.com/what-is-the-cleanweb
A lot of people ask about whether there is a value to creating a cleanweb accelerator or whether there are too many accelerators already out there. I believe that the value an accelerator can create depends on what problem the accelerator is trying to solve and what the ultimate objectives of the accelerator is. My initial objective was to create a more cohesive cleantech ecosystem that would enable startups and new entrepreneurs to better navigate the landscape, interact with each other and access the resources already available. An accelerator was what we identified as the best vehicle to achieve that goal. Colorado has a plethora of top-notch resources for cleantech startups and many world-class organizations have developed because of it. Yet, for a new cleantech startup, it is a tremendously difficult landscape to navigate and few if any maximize the resources available. Often times because the effort required isn’t worthwhile, other times because the entrepreneurs isn’t aware that the resources exists. Additionally, there are frequently duplicated efforts where two or more companies are working to create the same outcome simply because they aren’t aware of each other.
The tech startup community in Boulder is vibrant and deeply integrated. There are endless numbers of events, meetups, and support organizations for tech including TechStars, BoulderBeta, BDNT, and the numerous developer meetups. Check outwww.boulderstartups.org and see what proportion of events are focused toward tech vs cleantech.
So, I guess I am a bit envious of the tech community. Where should an aspiring entrepreneur go to meet others with similar interests or complimentary skills and get help and guidance from veterans in the community. Don’t get me wrong, there is so much out there for cleantech startups but I believe there is no strong focal point that drives frequent opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to meet, develop, interact and collaborate as a consistent community.
A year ago, I had an idea to address this problem. It has been refined significantly since then.
At the time, I was working for Access Venture Partners as a venture fellow. I met with David Gold, a partner at Access and a leader in the Colorado cleantech investor community, to discuss an idea I had. I told him about my concept to launch a web-based community platform that would enable entrepreneurs and investors to gain visibility of what was going on in cleantech and connect with each other to build businesses and better differentiate efforts. The eventual goal would be to create an accelerator that would help a hand full of selected companies each year. David wisely recommended to focus directly on creating an accelerator. He pointed out that there is a lot of noise already and if you truly want to impact the startup community, do something that is deeply valuable to a handful of startups… focus.
Over the past year, GreenLite Labs has managed to recruit a talented Managing Director, Duer Reeves, and nearly 40 top-notch mentors. We are refining our value proposition by consistently meeting with cleanweb though-leaders across the country and are planning to launch in early 2013 with our first class. In the meantime, we are planning community events for cleantech and cleanweb entrepreneurs that we will hold throughout the Fall.
So that’s where we are now. Let us know if you have other ideas for how we can better build a cleantech/cleanweb ecosystem. One that is regionally strong, but tied into the national and international cleantech community. Let us know what ideas you have for how to create a community that makes it easier for new or aspiring entrepreneurs to navigate and access the amazing regional components of the Colorado Cleantech Ecosystem.
- Matt Reisman, Director of GreenLite Labs